35 seconds

A letter to TOC from Ms Michelle Tan.

I am disappointed that the Elections Committee disqualified Mr Ng Teck Siong from contesting in Tanjong Pagar on the basis of him submitting his form late by 35 seconds.

We know that for any measuring device, there is a percentage error. When you measure something as relative as time, different clocks may measure time differently. very precise clocks may register very good accuracy but to for a clock to be off by 35 seconds, it is all possible due to clock drift. That is why clocks have to be periodically synchronized. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clock_synchronization ). Hence, there is a possibility Mr Ng may not have been late in the strict sense but that the clock was off by a few seconds.

Secondly, in school exams, even after the examiner says 'Stop writing', I still see students scribbling for up to a minute after that. Yet, the examiner does not say anything. Does this mean all these students broke the law and the examiner is negligent? Should we haul up all the students that broke the law by a few seconds now, and the examiners who did not stop them? I believe not.

There is something called a few seconds grace.

The grace of a bus driver when he pulls his bus out of the busstop, and then he sees an old lady hobbling towards the bus she is about to miss; he stops for her.

In primary school I remembered very well my school song had this line "To give always with a gracious heart". It stuck with me. The government keeps urging Singapore to be a gracious society, for example The Singapore Kindness Movement. We are not machines and to penalize somebody who wants to play his part for Singapore in an election is not gracious nor public-spirited.

If Mr Ng had qualified, he may or may not win the election. But I believe he deserves to have a chance, especially after the effort he invested in the paperwork. I beg the Elections Committee to give Mr Ng Teck Siong a few minutes grace.


Tan Minxuan Michelle